George Will is Wrong ... This Week

The conservative columnist wants us out of Afghanistan in a hurry, but wasn't he for war before he was against it? Really for it!


There are two sure things every Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos: George Will and the heartbreaking “In Memoriam” segment listing the week’s war victims.

Apparently, the former has just started paying attention to the latter.

In two columns this week, George Will announced that he’s against not only the war in Iraq, but also the war in Afghanistan—wars which, for years, he argued in favor of in his role as dean of the conservative commentariat. Commentary’s Peter Wehner cites Will’s 2002 hypothesis: “Political nature abhors a vacuum, and when it fills up with the Taliban and the leakage of violence to these private groups, essentially, like al Qaeda, then you have to say ... ‘We’re going to have to get into the nation-building business.’”

Compare that to his belief now: “If there is a worse use of the U.S. military than ‘nation building,’ it is adult supervision and behavior modification of other peoples’ politicians.”

Forget that it should have been obvious that a substantial component of nation-building is, in fact, “supervision and behavior modification of other peoples’ politicians.” Will’s (dare we say it?) flip-flop on the wars marks an especially insidious strain of chicken-hawkery, bringing the conservative thought process on war in the Middle East full circle: attack first, develop rationalization later, equate dissent with treason, abandon ship.

Will argues that we’ve paid enough of a price in American blood and treasure and that now it’s time to go home: 4,340 killed/31,495 wounded in Iraq; 808 killed/3,807 wounded in Afghanistan. Maybe it’s no longer in our national interest to occupy Afghanistan, but why did it take him so long to figure it out? He is against “nation building”—which makes perfect sense as a political philosophy—but not if you’ve been arguing for nation-building for six or seven years, only to fold up shop when it becomes difficult and costly.